Get it right the first time
There's more to installing kitchen cabinet hardware than drilling holes and screwing on knobs and pulls. Whether you're installing hardware on brand new cabinets or replacing the hardware in a 100-year-old kitchen, think before you drill. Cabinets are expensive, and they look a whole lot better without extra holes. We asked Jerome Worm for some tips on how to install the “jewelry of the kitchen” — cabinet knobs, pull and other hardware. Use these tips to help your next install go quicker and with fewer mistakes.
Use the door rail as a guide
The location of knobs and pulls isn't written in stone, but there are some “standard practices” to install cabinet hardware. One good rule of thumb is to line up a knob with the top of the bottom door rail. If you're installing door pulls, line up the bottom of the pull with the top of the door rail. Always center them on the door stile.
Temporarily attach the hardware
Try different locations
Ultimately, the person paying for the hardware has the final word on where the knobs and pulls are to be installed. If Jerome's customers don't like his suggestions, he sticks a piece of reusable putty adhesive to the hardware and lets them put it wherever they want. He marks that spot with a pencil and installs the rest of the hardware accordingly.
Templates make the job easier
If you have more than a few knobs or pulls to install, use a template when you install cabinet hardware. A template makes the job go faster, increases uniformity and reduces the chance for mistakes. The Liberty Cabinet and Drawer Installation Templates shown here cost under $10 at a home center.
If you install a lot of hardware, buy a pro version like the one Jerome is using in the lead photo above. That's an EZ-JIG EZ1000. It's adjustable and has steel grommets where you insert the drill bit. You can get one for about $35 at hardware4less.com.
Cover unused holes with tape
Avoid tragedies — use masking tape
Store-bought templates and well-used homemade templates have a bunch of holes you won't use on every job. Avoid using the wrong hole by sticking masking tape over the jig, and poking through only the holes you need. Instead of using a pencil to mark the location of the hole on the cabinet, use an awl. That way your drill bit won't skate off in the wrong direction when you drill the hole.
Hide old holes with back plates
Good problem solver for older cabinets
If you're switching from a pull to a knob or you'd prefer to select pulls with a different hole pattern, you can cover the old holes or hide damaged surfaces with back plates. Home centers don't have a huge selection, so consider buying yours from an online source like myknobs.com. You'll find hundreds to choose from.
Super-glue the knob
Stop knobs from turning
Oblong and rectangular knobs that fasten with a single screw are notorious for twisting over time. Thread sealant will keep a screw from coming loose from the knob, but it won't necessarily stop the knob from twisting. Jerome avoids callbacks by adding a drop of super glue to the back of these types of knobs before he installs them.
Make a simple drawer template
Two-sided templates prevent tear-out
Use thread sealant to keep the screws tight
Mix putty to match
Hide holes with color-matched putty
If back plates won't cover the old holes, use putty to fill them. The wood grain on cabinet doors and fronts usually varies in color, so take one of the doors to a hardware store or home center, and buy three different colors of putty. Buy one that matches the darkest grain, one that matches the lightest grain and one halfway between. Use the three to mix a custom color to fill the holes.
Don't install hardware in front of the sink
The false drawer directly in front of the sink may look naked without any hardware, but it's not very comfortable getting poked by a knob in your midsection every time you lean over the sink.
Install hardware higher on the lowest drawer
Make bottom drawers easier to reach
Most drawer pulls are centered on the drawer fronts, but if the cabinet you're working on has two or three drawers the same size and one larger one at the bottom, install the bottom knob (or pull) higher than the center of that drawer front. Install it so all the knobs on the cabinet are spaced evenly. This configuration is pleasing to the eye and you don't have to bend over as far to open the bottom drawer.
Take old hardware to the store
Not every pull is the same size, and not every cabinet door/drawer is the same thickness. If you have the old hardware with you at the store, you'll be able to tell the size of the pulls you need as well as the length of screws required.